Kidnapped, raped, beaten: This is what women and girls have endured from extremist groups. I appeal to you, Mr. President, to use your authority to stand with these women and girls and take executive action to ensure that U.S. foreign assistance include emergency reproductive services, including abortion.
President Obama travels to Africa this week to attend a summit on global entrepreneurship and will for the first time visit his father's home country, Kenya. The president's visit is a unique opportunity for him to help restore justice to the women and girls of Kenya. We hope this time President Obama will listen.
Now is the time for the President to show the courage of his convictions by taking executive action to ensure that U.S. assistance will be available for abortion access for women who survive rape or incest, or whose lives are endangered by a pregnancy. It is the right thing to do. The time to act is now.
The Helms Amendment prevents U.S. foreign assistance programs from supporting abortion "as a method of family planning." But since the law's inception in 1973, the U.S. government has wrongly implemented it as a total ban on funding for abortion -- even in cases of incest, rape, and life endangerment.
President Obama can -- and must -- fix the policy of turning women away in the extreme cases of life-endangering pregnancies or those resulting from rape. Until Congress does the right thing and overturns the harmful law in its entirety, he can take a first step to ensure that U.S. programs are part of the solution, not the problem.